Summary: The first gift that Paul mentions is that of wisdom, and the second is that of knowledge. These are first because without them all of the other gifts can be used foolishly and in ignorance.
A little Protestant boy came walking into his house with a big black eye. His mother said, "Where on
earth did you get that shiner?" He said, "The O'Reilly kids hung it on me." "Why" she asked? He
replied, "Well, I was over at their house making some cracks about the Pope." His mother said,
"Certainly you knew the O'Reilly's were Catholic?" "Sure I did," said the boy, "But I didn't know the
Here was a little body that had to suffer unnecessarily because he lacked, at this stage in his life, both
wisdom and knowledge. The body of Christ has also suffered much in history because it lacked these
gifts. The Corinthians were doing and saying things that hurt other members of the body because they
were more concerned about their individual gifts then about the health of the whole body. This
self-centered attitude has been a common problem in the body of Christ right from the start. The 12
Apostles argued among themselves as to which of them was the greatest.
The spirit of individualistic striving for self-glory has been a major problem in the church all through
history. The harm this has caused the body has been unnecessary suffering, however, for the Holy Spirit
gave the Apostle Paul the gifts of wisdom and knowledge, and by means of these gifts has communicated
in these very chapters we are studying all that is necessary for any local church to overcome the problems
that come with the gifts. The strife, envy, and jealously of Christians can all be overcome if they will
listen to the wisdom of what Paul says here.
The first gift that Paul mentions is that of wisdom, and the second is that of knowledge. These are
first because without them all of the other gifts can be used foolishly and in ignorance. Paul began this
chapter by telling them, "I would not have you to be ignorant." The only cure for that is knowledge, and
so Paul is exercising is gift as he writes these words. When you read and study these chapters you are
benefitting from the gifts of wisdom and knowledge that Paul had for the benefit of the whole body of
Christ. Paul did not receive these gifts for his own sake, but for the sake of the body. He was not having a
problem himself that demanded that he have this knowledge. It was the body that was having the
problem, and he was gifted to meet that need of the body. He is an excellent illustration of the fact that the
gifts are not for the one who has them, but they are for the whole body. Solomon had the gift of wisdom,
but he went astray himself. Nevertheless, his wisdom is recorded for the benefit of all God's people. The
gift was not just for Solomon, but for the guidance of all the people of God.
The gifts can be abused and hurt the body because the Holy Spirit gives gifts just as we do. If I give
you a gift, I let go of it, and it is no longer mine. If I keep what I give you and control it myself, I have not
really given it to you. If I truly give you something, you then have the responsibility for its use. If I give a
child a knife, he can go and cut off the tail of the cat, or he can whittle out a wooden toy for his brother or
sister. He can do fun things with a target, or he can do harmful things like throwing it into the garage
door. My intention in giving it was that it be always used for good, and never for foolishness. But once it
is given the choice is up to the one who has received it. This explains how something good given to us by
God can still be used in a harmful way. That is why God gives us an owner's manual. He made the body
of Christ, and He knows how the gifts are to be used to benefit the body.
We have the Bible as our owner's manual to guide us in the proper use of the gifts.
In it we have the guidelines for living, and the prescriptions of the Great Physician that are needed to cure
the ills we develop when we fail to follow these guidelines. Every time we study the Bible we are
benefitting from the gift of wisdom. Before we look at the gift of wisdom let me share with you an outline
that classified these 9 gifts that Paul refers to in verse 8 to 10. There are many different ways these have
been classified, but the one I like best is this three-fold classification.